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Poultry Sector Ready for Sharp Rise in Demand

by 5m Editor
9 December 2008, at 8:30a.m.

IRELAND - The dioxin incident in the pig sector has resulted in a sharp lift in demand for other meats, poultry in particular.

According to Independent.ie, poultry processors are already gearing up to meet an expected hike in demand.

Vincent Carton, of Manor Farm Poultry, said that sales of chicken would certainly increase on the back of the pig crisis.

But he said there would be a time lag of a day or two before the extent of the swing towards poultry meat could be seen.

Pig meat and poultry are the two meats most eaten in Ireland, with an average annual consumption of 34kg per person of each meat.

During the avian flu crisis, pork sales increased in line with the slump in poultry sales.

Supermarket orders for chicken were up slightly yesterday, morning but Mr Carton said he expected bigger orders to be placed later this week.

"Turkey will be the major beneficiary of this crisis," he predicted. "Will retailers fill the space left by pork with turkeys?"

Meanwhile, the annual jousting between turkey suppliers and butchers has begun in earnest in the run-up to Christmas.

Some 500,000 turkeys will be consumed over the holiday season as the price battle hots up.

Prices quoted early in the season have ranged from €5.90 to €6/kg, but they are expected to fall to between €4.50/kg and €5.50/kg, depending on quality.

Dave Lang, from the Association of Craft Butchers of Ireland, said households will have the choice of buying Irish turkeys over imported turkeys for the first time this year. New poultry regulations stipulate that turkeys be labelled with country of origin, and other details, such as slaughterhouse number.

But the number of households who will sit down with a whole turkey on the table this Christmas will be lower than last year, Mr Lang predicted.

"There is a gradual change in consumers' attitudes to the traditional turkey and many are opting for a crown or a butterfly," he explained.

Crowns are where the legs are taken off the turkey and butterflies are boneless portions that can be bought pre-stuffed and ready to cook.

Some Irish families are shunning the traditional turkey in favour of other birds such as duck or goose and some are even opting for beef Wellington or leg of lamb, he added.